I am old enough to remember when Coca Cola was not about happiness and Pepsi was still relevant to pop culture. The two cola giants went head to head in India and the weapon of choice was celebrities. If it was Shah Rukh Khan for Pepsi, it was Aamir Khan for Coca Cola. If it was Sachin Tendulkar for Pepsi, it was Hrithik Roshan for Coca Cola.
The world of advertising was busy pitching the next big celeb for the cola majors. It is then but obvious to be amused by recent reports of Virat Kohli turning down a Pepsi endorsement since he does not consume the product. It has little to do with him consuming the product.
If it really was about consuming the product, will Virat Kohli have us believe that while he does not use fairness creams and does not drink Pepsi, he lives in Nitesh Estates. He also uses something called as ‘ROYAL CHALLENGE’ sports drink?
Do we really believe Hrithik Roshan wears Macroman chaddis? or varun Dhawan lounges in his Lux Cozi. Does Amitabh Bachchan use Navratna Oil? Or Shahrukh khan Navratna talc?
The craft of carving your own celeb brand will claim some victims. Prominent among them, Cola drinks and Skin lightening brands such as Fair & Lovely.
Notice how in the last few months we had reports of everyone from Kangana Ranaut to Taapsee Pannu; From Anushka Sharma to Ileana D’Cruz refuse fairness cream endorsement.
Most recently Priyanka Chopra attributed her past endorsement of a fairness cream to immaturity and lack of a better judgment. Garnier should be pissed at this.
Deepika Padukone endorsed Neutrogena fine fairness. Of course now that she has the platform of mental health and an image of a thinking, talented super star, she wouldn’t be caught dead endorsing the product.
Interesting how Anushka Sharma went on record to say she will not endorse a fairness product.
But then she totally endorses the WHITENING body lotion.
Watch the ad here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRZ7hN2j7Vw
So how is a whitening product for the body better than it is for the face? If it was a matter of principles, shouldn’t she not have endorse the Whitening body lotion too? I am not vilifying her for her choice. This is to make a point that when it comes to celebrity brands, they are every bit as trustworthy or untrustworthy as any other brand.
The game of endorsement has just become much more competitive and intelligent. The new age PR machinery and the still emerging paparazzi culture has ensured that celebs now know that they are brands themselves and an endorsement is not them being a spokesperson for a brand but an association of two brands. An image is created to make consumers believe that the celebrity brand stands for certain values. The key word being IMAGE.
Which brings me to the point. Indian movie stars have always been the most powerful brands in the country. It is only recently though they have realized that how they can cultivate an image to boost their equity and get a premium. They will get more picky about their endorsement because the media money that every brand will spend will either further cultivate their image or tarnish it and hamper their equity.
Cola drinks and Fairness products are just the beginning. Years from now we will witness what the Western world already is witnessing, celebrities will refuse endorsements from brands that are not in sync with their social and political beliefs. This is just a beginning.